What is this? Found Part of Cannon

Tomdh3

Cadet
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Location
Tennessee
I joined this site, just to make this post. I have read the site and enjoy the comments. See the pictures attached of a part of a cannon that my family has had for some time. I will tell the story, and I am hoping to find out any information that anyone may have. As you can see it is the trunnion of a cannon still attached to the outer bore and a small section of the inner bore. It has the markings "1820" on the trunnion. I am assuming that is the year / model number of the cannon. This piece of cannon was found by my father and grandfather in the mid to late 1960's, just below Fort Pillow down the bluff a ways (probably less than 100 yards or so). They were able to keep the cannon because at that time it was private land and not a historic park. I have always wondered why it appears that it was exploded. Years ago, someone told us that a few years after the war, there was a 4th of July celebration at the fort and two cannons were shot off. One of them exploded and killed a few folks. That has always been what we assumed happened, but I have researched that and found nothing. I just don't think that sounds right. I would love to learn any information about the model of cannon, size of cannon, and how it may have exploded. the diameter of the trunnion is 6.25" across. The entire piece is extremely heavy. Once person cant barely lift it 1 inch of the ground. Thanks for any responses.




cannon1.jpg

cannon2.jpg


cannon3.jpg


cannon2.jpg
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
Welcome From THE Heart Of Dixie. Interesting piece and with the trunnion at 6.25 its going to be a 32lber and it appears that it has been rifled at one point as when these were originally cast they were smooth bore. We will need to check and see what guns were at Ft Pillow.
 

Tomdh3

Cadet
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Location
Tennessee
Per a Cincinnati Gazette report (p.168), there were two 32 pounders at Fort Pillow that burst.



Wow, that explains everything. They found the cannon piece exactly where that article describes it, down on the water's edge, and not up top where the fort was. I assume that other piece of cannon is in the Fort Pillow State Park Interpretive Center? I have not been in years. I need to go check it out again.
 

Story

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
Fellows at the museum say the piece on display was found 'sometime in the 1970s, close to the end of Highway 87'. They also think it's a smooth bore so @ucvrelics what does one look for to determine rifling when rifling is not obvious (like the OP's photos above - I don't see lands nor grooves)

The mystery continues.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Wow, that explains everything. They found the cannon piece exactly where that article describes it, down on the water's edge, and not up top where the fort was. I assume that other piece of cannon is in the Fort Pillow State Park Interpretive Center? I have not been in years. I need to go check it out again.
Oh, by the way, welcome to CWT!
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
That is pretty cool. If you measure the arc of the bore, you can calculate the caliber of the gun. That would go a long way toward finding out what kind of gun your relic came from.

FYI, when photographing an item like this one, it is very helpful to include a clearly legible ruler.

Assuming the 1820 is a date, not a weight, cast iron cannons of that period were 300 percent over built. That was because of endemic casting flaws. A real brute of an iron gun might be a measly six pounder.
 

Tomdh3

Cadet
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Location
Tennessee
Fellows at the museum say the piece on display was found 'sometime in the 1970s, close to the end of Highway 87'. They also think it's a smooth bore so @ucvrelics what does one look for to determine rifling when rifling is not obvious (like the OP's photos above - I don't see lands nor grooves)

The mystery continues.

That is a long ways from where we found our piece. As the crow flies that is 3.5 miles away where hwy 87 hits the river. We found our piece right below the fort on the banks of Cold Creek (called Coal Creek back then). The river has changed its course since the war and moved more west from where it was then. The fort used to be right above where Cold Creek hit the river.
 

Story

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
Dude, great job. I mean serioously.

Thanks, but I still need to answer the five W's.
That is a long ways from where we found our piece. As the crow flies that is 3.5 miles away where hwy 87 hits the river. We found our piece right below the fort on the banks of Cold Creek (called Coal Creek back then). The river has changed its course since the war and moved more west from where it was then. The fort used to be right above where Cold Creek hit the river.

Mind you, he was describing the location to me as a non-local. He also mentioned the river changing course, but not at the base of the fort where they found it. If you talk to him, you'll probably come to the same conclusion - nearly identical to where you found yours.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Wow, that explains everything. They found the cannon piece exactly where that article describes it, down on the water's edge, and not up top where the fort was. I assume that other piece of cannon is in the Fort Pillow State Park Interpretive Center? I have not been in years. I need to go check it out again.
Welcome to the forum.

Fort Pillow had water batteries as well as field pieces on top of the bluffs. There was also a water battery that was mid-way up the bluffs. The earthworks of this water battery still exists and the Rangers takes guided hikes to this location. I've been on one and can show you where it is located. The water batteries down on the edge of the river has been washed away with the yearly flood season.

Also that fractured cannon is at the Interpretive Center. I hardly pay any attention to that as I don't see it as playing any role in the 1864 battle and I pretty much assumed it came off of a gun boat.

@Rhea Cole said:
That is pretty cool. If you measure the arc of the bore, you can calculate the caliber of the gun. That would go a long way toward finding out what kind of gun your relic came from.
Does the piece you found have any of the bore remaining? If you have a section of the bore or the outer diameter, you should be able to take enough measurements to calculate the full diameters. Looks like you don't have any bore.

My Question: Were they using artillery pieces dated "1820"?? That is an old gun.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
There is a section of the bore in one of the photos. I don't recognize this piece, but it is possible that the 1820 number indicates the weight, not the date. Somebody that specializes in pre-civil war artillery is going to have to help us out.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
They also think it's a smooth bore
Since he only posted side views and no front or back views looking down the tube, you can still see the rifling in one of the side view photos.
cannon3.jpg




My Question: Were they using artillery pieces dated "1820"?? That is an old gun.

Yes they were using many 32lb seacoast guns in the early day of the CW and some were rifled early on. There are MANY examples of these guns used during the CW. They may be early but they still fired.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
There is a section of the bore in one of the photos. I don't recognize this piece, but it is possible that the 1820 number indicates the weight, not the date. Somebody that specializes in pre-civil war artillery is going to have to help us out.
It is NOT the weight, it the date as this model 1820 was made in 1821 and is a 32lb seacoast gun which had a 6.4 inch bore and an overall length of 121.5 inches, trunnion dia. 6.25 inches and weighed 6732 pds. Many of these guns saw service early in the CW.

cannon3.jpg
 
Top